Heathrow airport has released its latest traffic and financial figures, with losses widening to £1.5 billion for the period of the first nine months of 2020.

The London hub is now forecasting to welcome just 22.6 million passengers this year, and 37.1 million in 2021.

The figures compare to 81 million travellers passing through the airport in 2019, with Heathrow blaming “the second wave of Covid and slow progress on introducing testing by the UK government to reopen borders with ‘high risk’ countries”.

Earlier this month the airport warned of a “catastrophic decline” as October traffic declined by 82 per cent compared to 2019.

Heathrow recently lost its title as Europe’s busiest airport to Paris CDG, and said that Amsterdam Schiphol and Frankfurt are now “close behind”.

Striking a more positive note Heathrow said it had “invested in the UK aviation’s most extensive array of Covid-secure technologies”, with new rapid testing technologies “already helping to open up overseas markets safely”.

Virgin Atlantic recently announced plans for a mandatory pre-departure Covid-19 testing trial on selected services from Heathrow to Barbados, Antigua and Grenada, while British Airways and American Airlines have launched a transatlantic testing trial on selected flights between the United States and Heathrow.

Virgin Atlantic to trial mandatory Covid-19 tests on Heathrow-Barbados flights

Commenting on the news Heathrow’s CEO John Holland-Kaye said:

“Britain is falling behind because we’ve been too slow to embrace passenger testing. European leaders acted quicker and now their economies are reaping the benefits. Paris has overtaken Heathrow as Europe’s largest airport for the first time ever, and Frankfurt and Amsterdam are quickly gaining ground.

“Let’s make Britain a winner again. Bringing in pre-departure Covid tests and partnering with our US allies to open a pilot airbridge to America will kickstart our economic recovery and put the UK back ahead of our European rivals.”